Sports, Concussions and Brain Health

Innovative Research to Help Diagnose the Long-term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

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Emerging research at UBC shows that the effects of brain injury could be more severe and longer lasting than previously thought. People with head injuries could have an increased risk of compromised motor function and neurodegenerative diseases. Yet, an increasing number of people—especially athletes—suffer from traumatic brain injury and there is a critical gap in the information we need to accurately diagnose and predict the seriousness of these injuries. Your support is needed to help Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, develop a new method for diagnosing traumatic brain injury that will enable researchers and physicians to predict the long-term effects of brain injury and better treat these conditions.

No single brain scanning technology has the ability to identify the intricate but significant brain changes that occur following concussion. Our ability to see these changes would influence the way we understand and treat brain injuries to help improve Canadians’ recovery and wellbeing. Dr. Virji-Babul has already begun research to understand how traumatic brain injury affects the brain, both structurally and functionally. She is now working to combine the use of neuroimaging tools with targeted clinical and neuropsychological tests to identify distinct biomarkers for the presence and severity of traumatic brain injury. These biomarkers will help predict the risk of long term brain damage, and importantly, help define people’s future risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Part of Dr. Virji-Babul’s research will also focus on creating an ethics framework for the use of neuroimaging tools in doctor’s offices. She will compile legal and regulatory guidelines to create best practice policies to protect people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

This research is critical to the health of our children, athletes, and community as a whole, as traumatic brain injury affects close to 1.8 million North Americans aged 12 or older each year. Please make a donation to help build on Dr. Virji-Babul’s innovative findings in brain health and develop ethical and accurate diagnoses to better treat people with traumatic brain injuries.